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Blogathon Best of 2012: Pre-2012 Comics – Spider-Clone Saga

Something that always seems to get lost in year-end lists is that no one experiences just new things. You always have a mix of new and old and the old always get lost. So, mixed in with my top ten comics of 2012, I will discuss five comics (in alphabetical order) that are from before 2012 that I read in 2012 and loved. We conclude with… “THE SPIDER-CLONE SAGA” BY MANY, MANY PEOPLE!

When “The Spider-Clone Saga” was happening, I read some of the comics, but not nearly all of them. What kid is going to be able to buy four or five comics a month like that? And what kid, if they can, is going to focus exclusively on one group of titles — no matter how interesting the story is. This year, I bought all of the trades for “The Spider-Clone Saga” along with the six volumes focused on Ben Reilly when he becomes Spider-Man. I haven’t made it past the first volume of that set. I really enjoyed “The Spider-Clone Saga” material, though. I knew a decent chunk of it. It’s a story that began strongly and had a smart end point with Ben becoming Spider-Man, allowing Peter and Mary Jane to go off and have their family. Things didn’t work out that way in the end, but it was a good idea.

What struck me was how little Peter Parker and Ben Reilly interacted at first. They each dealt with their own problems and mostly stayed apart. Those issues were incredibly strong with Peter trying to stop being so lost inside of the Spider and Ben trying to figure out what he wants to do — and who he wants to be. Where the books close their way is by focusing on the bullshit surround the clone stuff. Focusing on who is the real Peter Parker, introducing more clones, reintroducing the Jackal… oh, that stuff is just dreadful and is such a huge misstep. It’s a big ball of “Who gives a fuck?” I certainly didn’t all those teases and promises of answers did was turn a perfectly good story into something tedious and awful.

If they had kept it simple and contained with just Peter and Ben, it could have been a lot better. Stuff like “Maximum Cloneage” was so misguided, so wrongheaded. I found it cool as a kid, but really bad as an adult.

This year, I plan to finish it by reading the Ben Reilly stuff. Those books are on the shelf beneath the Kirby stuff.

In 90 minutes, I will return with my #1 comics of 2012.

[Don’t forget to donate what you can to the Hero Initiative (Details in this post)! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations — and who to thank.]

10 Comments

“It’s a story that began strongly and had a smart end point with Ben becoming Spider-Man, allowing Peter and Mary Jane to go off and have their family. Things didn’t work out that way in the end, but it was a good idea.”

Hmmm..I’m really not sure that it was a good idea. I suppose if Marvel had moved really, really quickly, then they might have got away with it. A time-frame of:-

#1 Clone Peter returns,
#2 Revealed! Clone Peter is Real Peter, Real Peter is Clone Peter,
#3 Mary Jane has to go into some sort of witness protection programme. Old Peter goes with her. New Peter steps into old Peter’s life.
Old Peter and Mary Jane aren’t mentioned again – well for at least four years.

Fans would haved moaned about it as much as they did about Brand New Day, but it might have worked. As soon as Marvel started the whole ‘Ben Reilly’ thing though. It was clear it was never going to stick. And it was just another story (only much, much longer).

Bob from Accounting

January 27, 2013 at 6:18 am

@Anonymous:

No. The whole ‘the Peter you know is really the clone’ thing is part of the nonsense that killed the Clone Saga. If it had stuck with the simple remit of ‘Peter has a kid, retires a superhero to be able to be a proper parent and passes on the mantle to the clone who has proven himself worthy by fighting alongside him’ then it could have been good. Hell, it could have been great. Ben Reilly was a likeable hero who could have very easily become the new protagonist and having to make a difficult choice between family and heroism is exactly the kind of grounded, human superhero story that Spider-Man was created for.

I honestly think that if they had kept it that simple and gone through with it, then we would look back at the Clone Saga as great story and a vital part of Spidey history rather than the well-deserved derision the story it ended up being is treated with today.

I still don’t think it would have worked.

I know Marvel came up with the idea to get rid of the marriage (and the fans who say it was an obsession of Joey Q’s just don’t seem to get that Marvel wanted it gone pretty much from the beginning), but it turns Spider-Man into a much more convoluted character, gets rid of the richest supporting cast in comics and makes Spidey a character even MORE insular to comics.

It’s like the Pre Batman/Superman Supergirl. If you were reading all of the comics about her then you know she was a being from another dimension where Superman executed Phantom Zone villains who had killed every living being and when she came to our earth she took on human form, was brainwashed by Lex Luthor, merged with a human woman and then became an angel of some kind.

If you weren’t reading all of those books you said, “Isn’t she Superman’s cousin?”

If they can pull off Miles Morales, they could have pulled off Ben Reilly as Spidey; as Chad said, stay away from the Clone BS (I personally like G Kendall’s suggestion – have one of them pick up the test results and tear it up before reading them because honestly it doesn’t matter, they’re brothers and they need to move on). Throw in JM DeMatteis writing the main book and you had the formula for success. Plus, Ben’s Spidey costume looked good, don’t let anybody fool you.

the only good part of the clone saga besides letting the jackal take his place in the spider roque gallery is that it allowed peter to be able to have some happiness even give up spider man for a while and let ben take over believing he was the clone. the bad part not only the green goblin resorting to make mary jane and peter believe their baby was still born but being behind the whole thing from the start. when it should have been just the jackal as the main baddy and just stuck to ben as the clone no extra ones no kaine just ben.

Bernard the Poet

January 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm

@ Bob from Accounting

If Marvel were going to succeed in establishing Ben Reilly as the new Spider-man, then Peter Parker had to be revealed as the clone. I just don’t think readers would have accepted a permanent status quo of the real Spider-man retiring to Connecticut while they follow the adventures of the fake Spider-man in four titles.

It might have lasted a year or two, but like Bucky/Cap or Azrael/Batman, the original Peter Parker would have eventually returned and Marvel would still be stuck with the “problem” of a happily married Spider-man.

@ Bernard the Poet

That’s the beauty of G Kendall’s solution – you don’t address who the real clone is, because in the eyes of Ben and Peter, it doesn’t matter. Ben is Ben now, and Peter is Peter.

Establishing who is the clone and who is the original doesn’t help either of them, instead they need to accept each other as brothers and move on. Because you don’t know if Ben is the clone or not, fans are allowed to take that ambiguity and apply the answer they want because there is no official answer. If you believe Ben is the clone, then no one can tell you you’re wrong, and the same goes for Peter being the clone.

This way you can focus on selling the new status quo with Ben by telling good stories featuring him (although I’d suggest keeping Peter around as a supporting character the way they did for the last few months of the Saga, because that led to some really good moments between the two). You don’t need Mephisto, you settle the clone business, and you have a new Spider-man that is single without invalidating Peter.

So yeah, Ben Reilly could have been Marvel’s Wally West, only you would still have Peterand MJ hanging around to interact with him. This is why he’s a character worth bringing back.

Ben Reilly would never have lasted as Spider-Man. That said, I do agree that he didn’t need to be killed. He could have been sent off on a bus and just brought back whenever a later writer felt enough time had passed from the Clone Sage for Ben to be used again. A Scarlet Spider comic book could have worked in the late 1990s (or today, as if Kaine could maintain a series, obviously Ben Reilly could).

What is ironic about the Clone Saga (created in the first place in part to deal w/ Peter being married) in light of One More Day is that according to Andrew Goletz’s Life of Reilly piece, the resolution was very close to being that both Ben and Peter were the “real” Peter, just that Ben was Peter sent back in time 5 years w/ his memories stripped by . . . Mephisto (the time loop proposal). Goletz writes that it was nixed by Tom DeFalco:

Tom DeFalco’s response to the “Time Loop” was equally unenthusiastic. “Mephisto is not a Spider-Man villain,” he wrote in a memo dated October 2, 1995. Further, he noted that “we ultimately learn the fate of the ‘clone’ Peter Parker and Ben Reilly from the ol’ Prince of Lies himself.” In other words, how can we trust anything that Mephisto says?

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